BARCELONA, Spain — 5G gets a ton of buzz, but the real focus should be on the business case. How will service providers make money with 5G? Juniper Networks CTO Bikash Koley says the answer is at the edge.
“I do believe that edge compute will be a huge part of the monetization,” he said in an interview at MWC Barcelona. “5G allows high bandwidth and connectivity to the edge, which was not quite there with 4G.”
And service providers “already have beach-front property,” he added. “They are sitting on central offices that are within milliseconds of most people in large cities that they really haven’t monetized.”
Contrail, Juniper’s SDN portfolio, is the vendor’s edge play. The software portfolio that spans the enterprise data center (Contrail Enterprise Multicloud), the wide-area network (Contrail SD-WAN), the telco cloud (Contrail Cloud), and the edge — base stations, hub sites, and switching sites (Contrail Edge Cloud). It also has an open source version called Tungsten Fabric.
Because these locations often have power and space constraints, Contrail Edge Cloud pushes data plane functions to the edge while keeping management functions centralized, Koley said. That centralized location can be a data center, or a public cloud. “We run a very simple, small, lightweight edge instance that is connected to the central control overlay where it shows up as part of the common cluster.”
During Juniper’s most recent earnings report, CEO Rami Rahim said Contrail software sales increased more than 100 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, and more than 200 percent for the full year. Koley, at MWC, said more than 45 service providers worldwide are Contrail customers, and “most of the Tier-1 service providers are on Contrail.” These telco customers include Italy’s TIM, Telstra, NTT Communications, and AT&T.
Juniper also remains committed to open source, and believes it will be key to advancing edge computing, Koley said. Contrail is based on The Linux Foundation’s open Tungsten Fabric project, and it continues to contribute to the foundation’s Akraino Edge Stack project. The company is also a premier member of the Linux Foundation’s new edge computing initiative called LF Edge.
“The new standardization happens in places like Akraino,” he said. “Standards are not any more about defining what the interfaces are, what the protocols are. They are really making APIs work together and making the infrastructure work together. And it’s done in code. We are a very big believer of that and we remain committed to having Contrail completely open source in form of Tungsten.”